SARS-CoV-2 and food safety, the current thinking…

Greg Davies

Greg Davies
Director of Market Development, Assurity Consulting
15th September 2020

“SARS-CoV-2 should not be considered a food safety hazard since a true food safety hazard enters the human body with food via the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract, where it can infect organs/tissues elsewhere in the human body. In addition, it is important that one differentiate a food hazard from a food safety risk, i.e., the mere presence of an infectious agent in a food does not necessarily translate into human infection.”

This opinion further adds weight to the belief that food as a mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2 and so COVID-19 is not one we need to be considering on current evidence. The document goes on to look at food packaging and handling too, stating:

“Despite the many billions of meals consumed and food packages handled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to date there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging or food handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in COVID-19. Considering that there are to date, no proven cases or scientific associations between food consumption and COVID-19, it is highly unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 constitutes a food safety risk.”

The document further covers suggested mitigation measures from public and occupational health perspectives, but for food safety assurance purposes concludes:

“Given the lack of evidence associating food or food packaging with the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, ICMSF does not advise food end product or environmental testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus for reasons of food safety assurance. As SARS-CoV-2 does not pose a food safety risk, systematic sampling and testing for the virus is of no added value for food safety purposes.”

With people returning to the workplace and facilities, including catering, being once again used, the need to check that your general food safety processes, equipment and space remains safe hasn’t changed. How are you assessing yours?